The House and Senate this week convened in joint session to honor the service of the Oklahoma National Guard and the 45th Infantry Division.
Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Michael C. Thompson praised the Guard for always being ready to answer the frequent calls to duty in Oklahoma, including assisting after tornadoes, fires, floods or other disasters. The Guard also serves overseas – in 10 countries since 2018 and currently in four.
Several members of the Guard spoke during Tuesday’s joint session, inspiring us with their stories of dedication and sacrifice. Gov. Stitt also praised members of the Guard for their willingness to serve and sacrifice time with their families and other careers and ultimately to be willing to lay down their lives in service to their state and nation. About 9,000 men and women currently make up the Oklahoma National Guard; 19 of those members lost their lives during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I cannot say enough to express my appreciation for this ultimate sacrifice.
Also this week, we observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Last November, Oklahoma voters approved Marsy’s Law, which amended the Oklahoma Constitution to give crime victims the right to be notified throughout criminal justice proceedings. It also requires they receive information about services available to them and to be updated on an offender’s release from custody. Victims also have the right to be heard in plea or sentencing. House Bill 1102 would add many of the requirements of the state question into state statute to ensure the law is evenly administered across the state. In rural areas, district attorneys don’t have some of the same resources as urban areas; but in urban areas, courts are often stretched thin from the number of cases and affected victims. The bill will likely advance to conference committee so final language can be adopted.
Also this week, House Bill 2640, Francine’s Law, passed the Senate and can now be signed into law by the governor. The measure requires law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners to enter all missing and unidentified persons’ information into the national NamUs unidentified persons’ database, which provides free forensic services for families of missing persons to better help them find and identify their loved ones.
The legislation was named for Francine Frost who was abducted from a Tulsa grocery store in 1981. Her case was cold until 2014 when a grandson found information in the NamUs system that helped identify an unidentified person as his missing grandmother. Had this legislation been in place years earlier the family might have avoided an agonizing wait to learn the fate of their loved one.
On a fun side note, America Ninja Warrior was at the state Capitol this week filming for an upcoming episode. The group travels with about 150 regular employees and then employees about 100 local people plus local caterers in each city where they film. They rent local hotel rooms, eat in local restaurants and explore the cities they visit investing in the local economy. They average about 10 days in each city, so this is a nice boost. Maybe we can talk them into coming to our area in the future.
As always, I will keep you updated as the session progresses. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my office (405) 557-7327.